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A.Word.A.Day--scrofulous

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scrofulous (SKROF-yuh-luhs) adjective

1. Of or pertaining to or affected with scrofula.
2. Morally corrupt.

[From scrofula, a tuberculosis of the lymph glands, especially of the neck. The word scrofula derives from Late Latin scrofulae, plural of scrofula, diminutive of Latin scrofa (breeding sow), perhaps from the belief that breeding sows were subject to the disease. In olden times it was believed that a royal touch would cure the disease, which was also known as "king's evil".]

"I am aware that there are no sleek pacers here, only scrofulous jugheads, square-gaiters with more fur on them than the coats on the society dames on the Via Veneto back in Rome."
Jeff Wells; Punting with Les Mugs of Paris; The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia); Jan 16, 1999.

"This crushing realization comes by way of a splendid roster of minor English characters, created by Mount for our amusement and Gus's torment. The scrofulous, self-pitying travel agent and racing-car enthusiast ..."
Christopher Hitchens; Fairness; The Atlantic Monthly (Boston); Jul/Aug 2001.

"I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am." These candid words of Samuel Johnson, lexicographer extraordinaire, provide a perceptive observation on the human condition. A language is a mirror of its people. As a disinterested record of the language, a dictionary serves as an accurate window to the culture. It's not surprising that there are more words to describe people who fall on the wrong side than on the other. In this week's AWAD we'll look at five such words.

[Update: The quotation is from Joseph Baretti, not Johnson. See here.]

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I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. -Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President (1809-1865)

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